U.S. Approves Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE as Part of Middle East Missile Shield

The U.S. State Department approved on Tuesday possible foreign arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. Under the deal with Saudi Arabia, the U.S. would sell 300 Raytheon made MIM-104E Patriot missiles for more than $3 billion. The deal would also include control stations, fire control and other equipment.

Saudi Arabia wants to replenish its dwindling stockpile with the fresh batch of Patriots. According to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the sale is meant to help the kingdom defend itself from attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen, who shoot ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles into Saudi territory.

The defense agreement comes after years of tense relations between Washington and Riyadh over the murder of Khashoggi. Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” on international stage during his presidential campaign in 2019. Biden banned U.S. offensive weapons sales to the country in February last year.

On the same day of the foreign military sale, a Yemeni truce was extended. The Biden administration is dusicussing whether to lift the offensive weapons ban.

Saudi Arabia has for years been the biggest buyer of U.S. made weapons. The kingdom bought 23% of all U.S. weapons exported between 2017 and 2021.

The U.S. State Department also cleared a potential sale of 96 Lockheed Martin made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system missiles as well as related equipment to the United Arab Emirates for an estimated value of $2.2 billion.

The DSCA said the sale would improve the UAE’s ability to meet current and future ballistic missile threats in the region and reduce its dependence on U.S. forces.

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